Warning: This article may be triggering for some readers. Please read at your own discretion.
The former neighbour of Tara Reade, the woman who alleges Joe Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993, has spoken out and said Reade told her about the alleged assault back in the mid-1990s.
Lynda LaCasse has publicly spoken up to corroborate Reade’s allegations in recent interviews with news outlets, saying Reade disclosed details about the alleged incident while the two women lived in the same apartment complex in Morro Bay, Calif.
LaCasse’s account is the first on-the-record report that may independently corroborate Reade’s allegations in great detail.
Fifty-six-year-old Reade, a former aide to Biden, says the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee pushed her against a wall in the basement of a Capitol Hill office building, groped her and penetrated her with his fingers. She says the alleged incident occurred in spring 1993.
“This happened, and I know it did because I remember talking about it,” LaCasse told Business Insider, which broke the story on Monday.
Biden’s campaign denies the allegations.
LaCasse says Reade told her about Biden’s alleged behaviour in either 1995 or early 1996, CNN reports, during an emotional conversation they had during a cigarette break outside their apartments.
LaCasse told the outlet she often sat outside on her stoop smoking, and on this particular day, LaCasse cried as she told Reade about a custody battle for her kids. The neighbour said Reade started to cry as well and opened up about Biden.
“She started talking about Joe Biden. And I didn’t really know much about Joe Biden,” LaCasse told CNN.
She said Reade told her that when she was working in Washington a few years prior, the politician “had pushed her up against a wall and he put his hand up her skirt and he put his fingers inside of her, and she was dealing with the aftermath of that.”
LaCasse said she suggested Reade file a police report at the time, and Reade said she had already talked about the idea with her mother.
The retired health-care worker, now 60, said she decided to speak out because Reade’s story is under intense scrutiny and facing denials from the Biden campaign. LaCasse said she is also coming forward because she believed Reade’s account when she first heard it in the ’90s.
Both Business Insider and CNN have confirmed through public records that Reade and LaCasse were neighbours at a Morro Bay apartment complex. LaCasse said she and Reade lost contact when Reade moved out in the late ’90s, but they reconnected in 2016.
LaCasse said that after Reade told a California newspaper in April 2019 that Biden had inappropriately touched her and made her uncomfortable, the women revisited their previous conversation.
“She mentioned that she had come forward,” LaCasse said, “and so I said, ‘Oh my gosh. Yeah. I do remember that.'”
LaCasse said Reade didn’t ask her to speak out and that she volunteered to do so just recently.
“If this was me, I would want somebody to stand up for me. It takes a lot of guts to do what she’s doing,” LaCasse told Business Insider.
A second woman, Lorraine Sanchez, worked with Reade for California state Sen. Jack O’Connell from 1994 to 1996 and also told Business Insider that Reade revealed she was harassed.
Sanchez told the outlet that Reade said “she had been sexually harassed by her former boss while she was in D.C.” and was fired for voicing her concerns.
The Biden campaign declined to comment on the new interviews, pointing to an earlier statement from deputy campaign manager and communications director Kate Bedingfield.
The statement said that while sexual assault claims should be “diligently reviewed by an independent press,” what Reade alleged “absolutely did not happen.”
Last year, Reade publicly accused Biden of inappropriate touching but did not allege sexual assault until earlier this year when she spoke to political podcaster Katie Halper.
Following her conversation with Halper, Reade told the New York Times and the Washington Post that in the spring of 1993, she was told to meet Biden in a semi-private corridor to deliver a duffel bag. Then a 29-year-old staff assistant, Reade told the outlets that Biden put her up against the wall and took the bag.
“He reached up underneath my skirt. … I remember two fingers. … It was such a nightmare,” she told the Washington Post.
She alleges Biden said, “Come on, man, I thought you liked me,” then told her that she meant “nothing” before finally grabbing her shoulders and saying, “You’re OK.”
In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this month, Reade said she had told at least four people about the incident, including her deceased mother and her brother, Collin Moulton, who has spoken publicly about the matter.
Moulton told the Washington Post that his sister had told him parts of her experience with Biden but not about the alleged sexual assault.
The Associated Press spoke with two individuals on the condition of anonymity; one said Reade told them about the alleged assault when it happened, while the other said Reade talked in 2007 or 2008 about experiencing sexual harassment from Biden while working in his Senate office.
Late last week, the Intercept unearthed a 1993 video clip that shows a woman Reade says was her mother calling into CNN’s Larry King Live.
In the clip, an unnamed woman from San Luis Obispo, Calif., tells King that her daughter just left Washington “after working for a prominent senator and could not get through with her problems at all, and the only thing she could have done was go to the press, and she chose not to do it out of respect for him.”
Last spring, eight women, including Reade, came forward with allegations that Biden made them feel uncomfortable with inappropriate displays of affection.
Biden acknowledged the complaints and promised to be “more mindful about respecting personal space in the future.”
— With files from the Associated Press